Browsing Tag

Vegas

Britney Jean
Posts, Reviews, Travelog

Oh baby baby: Britney Spears in Vegas

The first thing you notice when you go to see Britney Spears’s live Vegas show is the young-but-getting-slightly-older fans queuing up for the best standing-room-only tickets hours before the show.  From all accounts this is a nightly occurrence.  I, on the other hand, was enjoying the fine dining and wine Vegas has to showcase–but that’s another story.

In fact Piece of Me still draws the same crowd it’s just that the girls have grown up a little and they’re in their 20s and early thirties (at a stretch). They’re still squishing into tight little dresses barely covering their bottoms and they’ve learnt how to walk in their massive heels.  (Don’t get me wrong, there are still young girls and their parents … and the likes of me).

Like all the other shows around Vegas Britney is telling a story.  And that’s exactly what it was–a show. I was expecting a concert. At a concert you expect the act to interact with the crowd.

With all the glitz, staging & lighting of a Vegas residency the only thing missing was Britney herself. I heard that the show is somewhat disappointing and she merely goes through the motions as she sings and dances her way through the night. The night we were there that statement wasn’t entirely true. This night she danced her way through popular numbers, strutting down the stage and running backstage for her many costume changes.

Piece of Me is well choreographed and executed, has all the bells and whistles in terms of lighting & effects, and Britney’s stamina is admirable.

But with all the glitz, staging and lighting of a Vegas residency the only thing missing was Britney herself. It’s hard to sing and dance–especially when you’re dancing with your all–but I thought I was going to see Britney sing. Or did I think I was going to see her perform?

Perform she did. Sing she did not. And that was disappointing. You didn’t just notice it for one or two moments, you noticed it over and over again. There were times when her moves were such that she could not have possibly been singing, and she didn’t make an effort to cover that up.

And she didn’t really interact with the audience. All we really got was a “Hello Vegas”. I wanted more. I wanted to hear from her, to have a chat, to get to know her a bit better–to get a piece of her.

But maybe Britney’s not ready to give us a real piece of her. I think Britney is trying to tell us something.

Britney was the epitome of success with hit after hit and teenage girls crying at the sight of her long before we even knew who Taylor Swift was. She was the original.

Piece of Me seems to be a tongue lashing, a message not by way of a song or an album but a Show. She’s reminding us what fame has done to her. We’re shown images of her career at the height of her popularity yet most of those successful songs were not on the playlist. Instead she chose songs like Piece of Me and Circus to tell her story. I wonder if anyone noticed?  Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t depressing, there were good songs too.  A highlight for me was Iggy Azalea up on the big screen duetting Pretty Girls with her.  Having said that it did seem that Iggy was more “present” than Britney.

She may have been down but she’s not out. She may prefer to ask her fans to come to her instead of touring around the world but she’s definitely changed. We changed her. Fame changed her. And for a while the world turned on her. Good for her as she has the last laugh because we’re lapping her up once again as she plays to packed shows, night after night, week after week. She deserves it, no one deserves to have a meltdown let alone one so public.

I’d recommend going to see Britney. I’m not sure if she’s going to sign on as there’s talk she may stop soon.  The Show is worth it–especially if you’re a fan. Just go to enjoy her perform, don’t expect her to sing.

Hit me Britney one more time.

xx It Started in LA xx

My LA story, Posts

Our first US summer has come to an end

That’s right, sadly our first US summer has come to an end.  I know many people that would be jumping for joy at the thought of their kids back to school and out of their hair.  Not yours truly.

I love the lack of routine school brings: sleeping in, not having to worry about getting home in time for school pick-up–or even being at school to pick up; no car pool queues and no worrying about what to pack for lunch.

But alas like all good things in life they must come to an end.  And there is always an upside:  I’ve missed you!  I’ve missed my Blogs and have so much to tell you it feels like I haven’t caught up with my best friend for ages.  (Which is true too).

Where do I start? Let me start by telling you that summer was great.  We had one of our good friends come at the start of summer and that meant showing them around the LA we know and love and a couple of roadtrips.  It was with them we conquered Yosemite and then drove to Vegas via Mammoth and Death Valley.  It seems like a lifetime ago.

The day after they left my mum and brother came and five days after they left my in-laws came.  In between we had a great visit from fellow Blogger UK Desperate Housewife of USA.  And that my friends is summer done and dusted.  We estimate five or so days with just ourselves for the whole nearly three months.  No wonder I’ve neglected you and I am exhausted!

There were so many highlights it actually feels like a bragfest if I go through them all with you.  But what that makes me realise, once again, is how bloody lucky we are to be living here doing the sorts of things we’re doing.

Which brings me to how this Blog was born.  You know when you read someone famous talk about the struggle to make it big and you sit back and think, “wow, did you what? Good for you. How did you manage to achieve that?” And it’s hard to imagine them as everyday normal people.

OK, not that I’m saying I’m all over the mags and hugely successful by any stretch but I wonder if I’ve conveyed to you that just over 12 months ago I was a normal, happy person getting up at 5am many mornings a week to take my son swimming then go for a run myself before I had to go back home to help my daughter get ready to take her to the bus to start her day.  Then work or go to the gym, grocery shop, manage the soccer and waterpolo teams and be ready for the kids to come home and do their afternoon activities, dinner etc. Blissfully happy as you can only be when you live in Australia unaware (fundamentally) that there are normal people living similar lives to me in Beverly Hills 90210.

Until my hubby got a call about moving there.

So of course we are constantly pinching ourselves and wanting to share a glimpse into how life can suddenly change for an unsuspecting Aussie family like us.  I’ve had nothing but great support for my blog but I do wonder if people realise that we weren’t “destined” for this life nor were we looking for it per se; it just happened.  Apart from the usual teenage stuff neither of our goals were to make it big in Hollywood–or make a go of it here.  Such is the wonder of life sometimes.  That’s what makes our story so cool.

So … apart from a few travel stories over the coming weeks I’ll share with you tidbits from our summer (told in the spirit of this Blog) in LA including :

  • Heading to our first Bar Mitzvah–90210 style
  • Mr H & I at the Creative Emmys
  • The kids and I at the Teen Choice Awards
  • Brushes with fame out and about in LA.

What’s on this week?

With the kids reluctantly packed up to school for another year and having the house to ourselves again it’s obviously time to focus on It Started in LA.  Aside from that I have a mountain (and I mean mountain) of ironing.

(I don’t mind ironing because I have a system: I record my favourite shows–and with M-Go or Netflix I don’t even need that–and I watch them while I iron.  It passes the time nicely and I have a great excuse for watching TV.  High on my list, if you’re interested, are Orange is the New Black and Scandalwhich we saw being shot when we first arrived in LA and had no idea how big it or the stars were.  I’ve since added Sons of Anarchywhich is tough because it’s up to season bazillion), Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad so it’s just as well I have a mountain of ironing.  Wait, did I mention Mad Men and House Of Cards? No? You get the picture).

Plus I want to get out and meet more people to start my new series, “Profiles” and trying to get on set to get a taste for that aspect of LA life. And of course I need to start planning our next holiday.  Busy huh?

Birthday parties 90210 style

In the meantime I’m party planner for my daughter’s up-and-coming 12th birthday party.  It’s been an eternity (according to her) since she’s had a party and she’s picked this year and turning 12 to have one.

Sigh for me.  And Mr H.  I’m sure it would be the same in Australia but pin the tail on the donkey, bringing in a clown or even an at-home dance party don’t seem to cut it anymore.

What do you do for a girl who is practically last in her class to have a party and everyone else has pulled out the big-gun ideas?  With a lot of tossing up and negotiation we decided on a screening of the movie The Giver (a book my daughter and her class studied last year that I also read and loved) at Mr H’s state-of-the-art “Viewing Rooms” at his sound stage on one of the studio lots.

Sounds flash huh?  I thought so but there was a little skeptical worry that everyone has access to such an amazing opportunity that it wouldn’t be special.  Lucky she realised that living here does not necessarily mean everyone has access to it and we’re on.  We’re all on board and I have to deliver a party that’s 2040 with a twist of 90210 and a Hollywood chaser.

Three key differences between parties 90210 style and 2040 style:

  1. The key difference that’s highly evident is that there are no lolly bags.  That could be a good thing I hear you say except they are replaced with a more upmarket version and called a “party favour”.  Party favours can be anything from a gift card to your favourite store (with the 2040 present budget) to a kit filled with fabulous goodies also equal to or greater than the 2040 present budget (or maybe I was just a little on the scroogey side?).
  2. We’ve upped the anti.  That’s not to say it’s not happening at home but I don’t think it’s happening across the board.  While all very gorgeous some of the parties my daughter has been to include lunching at the Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel, High Tea at Le Montage, a private nails party at a nail salon, dinner and pool parties with ice-cream vans and all the bells and whistles required to keep some 20 girls amused for a few hours.
  3. Catering.  There is no sign of party pies and sausage rolls nor of fairy bread and for that I think we should all have a minute’s silence.  No sign of lolly bags either but we’re changing that with a “candy station” to get us through the movie.

From my son’s perspective there were hardly any parties this year giving way for more intimate affairs with a couple of mates over.  Except one girl who had a massive party at the Polo Lounge of the Beverly Hills Hotel–booked out for Saturday night.  That one was quite the affair!

I’ve changed my thinking a little from when we first came.  While I’m not changing who we are or what we believe in I am accommodating things 90210 style.  A wise person (my mum) told me over the holidays that I shouldn’t make the kids stand out as being totally different to everyone else just because I want to stick to how we do things at home.  Her view was that (especially as you get into the teenage years) it’s good to be a bit under the radar and kids don’t particularly like to stand out as being especially different.  That’s not unlike what one of my school friends told me (reminded me of) when she came to visit earlier this year either.  So I’ve wiggled.

I think it’s good advice and I’ll continue to monitor how it means we navigate life 90210 style.

Enjoy the start of Spring Southern Hemispherers while we adjust to Autum (sorry Fall) here.  Thankfully LA’s weather doesn’t really change very much so the forecast is for sunshine and sunshine followed by sunshine.

xx It Started in LA xx

Driving Yosemite
Posts, Travelog

Yosemite: a natural wonder of the world in my books

I’ve climbed the Great Wall of China, I’ve seen the Great Barrier Reef, I’m desperate to do Macchu Picchu and Victoria Falls and I’ve flown over the Grand Canyon.

And now I can say I’ve soaked up all that Yosemite National Park had to give me and in my book it is one of the Natural Wonders of the World.

Majestic, spectacular, mind-blowing, stunning, breathtaking phenomenal … it left us speechless and in awe.

I’ve said it a few times now: I never wanted to live in the US, I certainly wanted to travel the US more extensively than I had but it wasn’t far enough up my bucket list to imagine that I’d get to see the amazing things I’m having the opportunity to do.  So forgive me if I indulge for a few more minutes as to how lucky I am to get the chance to visit Yosemite and to experience it not only with my family but with our close friends visiting from Australia.

No, this post isn’t about you reading about me gloating at having been to and admired Yosemite but about sharing it with you–more importantly how to conquer Yosemite yourself.

Many of my fabulous new LA friends haven’t been to Yosemite and I hope I can encourage them all to visit as it’s so well worth it.

When to go?

Well the materials say Yosemite is good to enjoy in every season and I’m sure it is.  Winter is the quietest month and summer its busiest.  For now I can only give you first-hand experience for summer.

Where to stay?

When I did my research the resounding advice was to stay in the Park.  The downside apparently was you had to bring everything in because there are no shops in the park.  That makes sense from Australian logic but when we got there we found supplies at a couple of the shops inside the park, enough I’m thinking to get you through.  Also, there are restaurants in the park so even if you’re camping you can book at the Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly known as the Ahawanee) for example for dinner and drinks.

Book early (full stop AND exclamation mark)

If you’re planning to go in summer and want to stay in Yosemite try to book between 6-12 months in advance.  There are first-come-first-serve campsites but you’ll have to join the queue early to guarantee yourself a spot.

I tried to book around five months in advance for two families and found no room at the Inn.  There was a last-minute cancellation for a very basic cottage but decided against it.  Instead we rented an RV (caravan truth be told) that was delivered and set-up at our campsite for us and managed to book a spot at nearby Oakhurst.  It’s about an hour/hour and a half drive but it’s a pretty one and we didn’t find it much of a hassle.  It also puts you at the main entrance (South Entrance) that’s open all year round.

RV

There were nine in an RV

Getting there

Here’s a link to help with driving directions.  Our entire trip started in LA direct to Yosemite (about a five-hour drive) then a couple of days later continued to Vegas via Mammoth and Death Valley (which was spectacular).

This drive on the way out (through Tioga Road–Highway 120 East entrance) is closed through winter because of its high elevation and snow.  We saw the last snow on the ground  on our way out that’ll give you an idea of how much snow there must be in winter.  It is a spectacular vision and different again from Glacier Point and the Valley floor.

To us, this drive out this far gate made us feel even more in awe of Yosemite and its changing face–the park just keeps on giving.  (NOTE: If you’re going to do this drive it gets cold so bring a hoodie/jumper/sweats or whatever it takes in whatever version of English you speak).

East Gate

The East Gate provides a different aspect of Yosemite well worth the drive

 

Other places to stay

We loved Bass Lake.  It’s around a 1.5 hour-drive to Yosemite Valley but it doesn’t feel like it.  There are some gorgeous houses and a decent-looking resort there.  We had the added bonus of hiring a boat and going donuting and wakeboarding (& champagning of course) which the kids just loved.

Bass Lake

Nearby Bass Lake was a pleasant surprise and a welcome find

 

Fish Camp is only a few kms from the South Entrance and while small had a number of accommodation options.  I wish I’d have known about this when I was booking.  I can’t tell you whether we would have secured accommodation here when Yosemite was booked out but I would have at least tried had I known about it.

Likewise Oakhurst (where we ended up) had heaps of accommodation offers and while hysterical ending up where we did I did look at the Best Western green with envy.  Again, I didn’t really know to look here for other options–yes, quite ill-informed going in I agree but you live and learn.

A note re booking early.  I was really peeved to find out that a couple having a drink at a table next to us at the Ahawanee only booked their room the night before and when we enquired there was one room free.  How could this be?  Hopefully it was due to last-minute cancellations and a lot of luck on their part.  The hotel couldn’t give me an explanation–they naturally danced around that question!

 What to see?

What isn’t there to see?  We’re not big hikers so doing all the trails and hikes was not for us.  That doesn’t mean to say it’s not for you.  We spent a whole day driving (and walking & eating) around Yosemite then the second morning driving through the South Entrance to the East Entrance to Mammoth and onto Death Valley.  (I can’t recommend this highly enough).

What did we see and did we think it was enough time?

  • Glacier’s Peak
Glacier Point

Glacier Point Selfie #155 | It Started in LA

 

  • Tunnel view on your way down to Yosemite Valley (takes your breath away). You know you’ve come to it because you literally drive through a long tunnel and when you come out: kapow.  Simply stunning it takes your breath away.
Tunnel view

Exit from a tunnel only to be knocked out by the most incredible view–kapow

 

  • Yosemite Valley covering some waterfalls, Half Dome and El Capitan.
Yosemite

Yosemite Valley: simply breathtaking | It Started in LA

 

I felt like it was enough (as in I didn’t feel like we missed out on anything not that we were bored).  As I said at the start I felt in awe, soaked it all in and the kids even managed time to play in the icy cold (and extremely pure) creeks.  I didn’t feel rushed and I felt like I got a sense of the place.

One of the best decisions we made was to valet park at the Ahwanee Hotel and have a drink and lunch there.  It was poles apart from our RV at the Trailer Park and the hotel is just gorgeous.  I managed to take a peak at the cabins and while lovely they were pretty basic so I’m not sure whether you need to spend the big bucks to stay here.

Ahawanee Hotel

Even if you don’t stay at the Ahawanee Hotel you can still eat or drink here

 

But then again I have nothing to compare it to (except the RV of course) but will let you know if I go back and try to stay at one of the hotels or lodgings.

Here’s a link to a great article I found on spending a day at Yosemite.  (It pretty much gives a little more detail of what I just said.)

My verdict

It was busy but it didn’t feel like it was over-crowded or compromised with lots of activity.  We got parks at each vantage point, managed a table for lunch and wandered around freely.

Others might not agree with me though.  When we got out of the car I was so excited and started saying to our group (who, OK, were not in close, close proximity to me), “Oh my god, this is amazing,” or words to that effect.  He (apparently) said something like it was until I spoilt his recording of the serenity.  Had I have known he said that I would have charged him money for my voiceover (or had him delete me if he didn’t cough up–either that or put him in touch with my agent and lawyer).  I didn’t realise we were in a museum or library.  Some people take life waaay too seriously.

The only time we felt it was overwhelmingly busy was when we were due to leave–there was a bit of a traffic jam.  We parked the car and sat by a creek near Curry Village to let the traffic subside.  It didn’t take long and we drove out of the park back to the Trailer Park.

Curry Creek

The Crystal clear waters at Curry Creek, Yosemite

 

The drive didn’t seem to take long at all and remember we had two cars and five kids so I reckon that’s saying something.

I would go again in a heartbeat.  Next time I’ll try to stay at a hotel in the park.  I’ve also added a trip to Mammoth on my list and I’d like to check out Lake Tahoe further north.

Do what you can but just do it.  Especially if you live in California you have no excuse not to visit Yosemite–a natural wonder right on your door step.  And if you don’t–what a great excuse to come to California.  But just remember:

xx It Started in LA xx

Acclimating
Celebrity, My LA story, Posts

Acclimating in LA

I love that word … acclimating.  We say climitising in Australia.  Don’t we? Or maybe we just call it settling in, “Have you settled in yet?  How’s the settling-in process going?”  Either way we don’t have a fancy word like acclimating.  (pronounced aclim-8-ing).

A few things have happened over recent weeks to make me think I am acclimating.

We’re planning our summer holidays.  One of my bestest buddies is coming over for five weeks and I can’t wait.  We’ve been busy planning trips to Yosemite, Vegas, hanging out in LA, trips to Malibu and spending the Fourth of July down in San Diego.  (Lucky I have really good housesitters).

While we were talking about San Diego I mentioned that some friends of ours will be down there at the same time who we just love.

“Are they American?” she asked.

“Yes, but they’re good ones!” I replied.  (All of my American friends–and readers–are the good ones!)

“Aha”, she was quick to say, “but you’ve been there nearly a year now, you’re used to it.”

Last week my daughter and I had two milestones: one was our first trip to Chipotle and the second was our first trip to mega craft shop Michael’s.

At Chipotle we were catching up on the news of the day (while Mr H was away and my son was busy training our calories off at waterpolo) when one of my favourite spunks–Joshua Jackson–walks in.  (This is our second encounter with Pacey from Dawson’s Creek).  I was a bit excited to see that we’d both chosen the same fast-food chain in which to dine on that particular evening and that he was so normal that he’d choose to grab a bite at Chipotle.  As you do.

I don’t usually take pics but as we were driving off my daughter snapped a couple of really bad pics of him for us to post to Instagram and Facebook.

One of my Aussie friends immediately wrote back that I’m so “acclimated” (said in my best American accent) because only a few months ago my daughter and I would’ve taken a selfie so we could snap him– up nice and close for us to see.  (True story. I did that very thing when I spotted fellow Prime-Time Soapie boy Ben McKenzie from The OC last year.  BTW: he’s about to star in upcoming new show Gotham).

Damn it.

Then last week as I sat in our last Parent Association meeting of the school year it felt nice and comfortable.  I arrived, spoke to a few people and sat down to listen to the meeting, discussing College Admissions and how well the Class of 2014 had done this year.  (Don’t you love it how they know before summer starts?)

There were wolf whistles in the audience, sighs, clapping and cheering and even a contrversial “key message” thrown in from one of the parents down the back (you know? the rhetorical question so in one fowl swoop a parent can share with the entire community how something bad happened to her and her daughter, ie the school effed up).  Cue: mumble, mumble, whisper, whisper until everyone looks front at again focused on the rest of the presentation.  Then more clapping and ra-ra-ing.

That’s right.  I didn’t blink an eye with all the ra-ra-ing and clapping and commotion of the meeting.  I actually caught myself and had a bit of a chuckle because I remember the first meeting scared the crap out of me.

My first time I was speechless.  It literally felt like I was in the audience of Dr Phil, or Oprah or Ellen and I wondered if this is what it was like every meeting.  Turns out they are.

It’s not so bad and it’s not so scary and it’s kinda fun.  Yes, fun.

I so want to be American.  I kind of like it.  It definitely wouldn’t work at home. How nice would it be to let it out and not be worried about everyone thinking you’re loser for showing some enthusiasm?  I kind of like that they do that … Now that I’m acclimated.

I’m not sure if I’ve shared with you before that I would live anywhere in the world except America.  I didn’t want the kids going to school here and I would rather move somewhere where where we could immerse ourselves in another culture rather than a Western one (yet I’d be prepared to live in the UK).  And of course here I am.

After the news sunk in though I started to wonder if a move to the US might give the kids amazing opportunities.  The night we were to make our final decision (should I stay or should I go?) the kids were watching Pitch Perfect on TV.  We were going to politely decline the offer and then I looked at the TV and thought about the opportunity America provides to be exactly who you are and to be recognised for who you are.  I looked at Mr H and said, “Why don’t we give our kids the opportunity?” Flourish in the arts, be in a movie, open up connections.  Do and be whatever and whoever they like.

The ra-ra scared me but I was secretly that person too. “Good for you, let’s do this, we can do this,” was always me.

(Ok, not so secretly.  My friends were quick to say I’d fit in really well because that’s my nature:  rally the troops, chief motivator and cheerleader.)

As Australians we need to stop knocking Americans. Why are so anti American?  Is it because we’re jealous?  Let’s ponder that a minute before you start throwing stuff at your monitor or device.

Do we want to be American? America?  OK, forget loud and white runners with shorts and long white socks.  Think land of opportunity, embracing Tall Poppies rather than cutting them down and generally encouraging everyone to be successful–and to hail them when they are.  To be able to express ourselves (naturally–without the beers or wine).

Nine things I’ve learnt after living in LA for nine months

Then this week I found this article in LA Weekly and I started wondering if it’s really going to take me five years to be truly acclimated.  Here I am thinking I’m well on my way to being acclimated.  Will we even be here in five years???

Just in case we’re not, here are my nine things I’ve learnt after living in LA for nine months:

  1. It’s OK to talk to random strangers in the street or supermarket (or anywhere for that matter).
  2. You start to make restaurant bookings during the week–or the week before–and that booking is either at 6:00 or 9:00.  (I think I’m pretty special when I get 8:30)
  3. You don’t go anywhere unless there’s Valet parking (or at a pinch guaranteed parking).
  4. You cannot survive without an Amazon Prime account.
  5. Don’t take the 405 North after 2:00 unless you want to hang out in traffic with the rest of LA.  I’m pretty sure it’s the same for the 405 South but I can’t vouch for that as I’ve never sat in it.  Don’t take the chance on a Friday afternoon though, then I know it’s busy.
  6. You don’t actually stop at four-way stop signs (when there’s no one there or you were there first).  Unless you choose to stop for a long time then you let everyone go ahead of you.  “After you, and you, I’m stopped now, why don’t you go…?”
  7. When someone offers to check for other sizes or colours they actually do it.  And when they say there are none left, it’s probably true.  You don’t have to ask someone else (or call back) to make sure.
  8. When someone says excuse me (because they will be in your way for a millisecond) they actually mean it, it’s not a back-handed comment: “Excuuuuse me.”
  9. No one will actually RSVP to your event or function.  And if they do it will be the last minute.  What happens if something better turns up then what?  Oh we just won’t show up.

I think I’m doing pretty well after nine months.  Maybe I’ll be able to add to this list after twelve months, or two years.  Watch this space.

xx It Started in LA xx

 

Easter
Differences between America & Australia

Easter in Oz v US: big chocolate eggs v little plastic ones filled with candy

I posted a status update on my Facebook page about a very special moment in time at dinner the other night: “that” conversation.  No, not the one about sex, the one about Santa and the Easter Bunny.  We pretended the kids didn’t know the “truth” while they “lived the lie” knowing that once we have “the chat” and come clean Christmas and Easter would never be the same again.

We couldn’t believe we were having the conversation–the kids telling us stories of times were we’d been so obvious and the time my mum said (practically as soon as the kids went to bed), “So should we put the presents out now?”

To which I (apparently) replied, “No, they won’t be asleep yet”.

I think it explains my daughter’s meltdowns over the last few Christmases when we had confirmed for her the dreaded truth but she couldn’t let us know we had.  She was acting up because what she wanted to be real was turning out to be a big fib after all.

It was such a gorgeous conversation but it was also melancholy that we were entering a new phase in our family life: the kids were indeed getting older.  Still, as one friend put it, “It doesn’t mean it can’t still be magical.” True enough.

Passover

This Facebook post turned into a comparison of traditions around Easter.  For many people here in 90210 they don’t celebrate Easter rather Passover–the freeing of the Jews from Egypt.  Over eight days they can’t eat bread or cereal (basically anything that can rise or has risen).  They start with a feast on the first night at sundown and the following night there is also a feast.  And I’m not quite sure what goes on the remaining six days.

Easter in OZ v US

But those who celebrate Easter should do so in roughly the same way here in the US as in Australia right?  Apparently not.  Firstly, apart from Lindt chocolate bunnies there are hardly any chocolate Easter Eggs. That turned out to not necessarily be the case.  I put my heart and soul into researching this topic and found some larger eggs but by and large the eggs here are small.

The eggs are either “candy” or plastic.  The plastic eggs are filled with candy and coins and scattered around the yard for the morning Easter Egg hunt.  There are lots of Easter-themed candies and marshmallows and a few little eggs.  Naturally being America all the chocolate companies put out Easter specials so you get Reece’s peanut butter eggs and Snickers eggs and even Kit Kat bunny ears.  Sadly for my family NO Red Tulip Bunnies.

Family favourite: Red Tulip Bunny

Family favourite: Red Tulip Bunny

Even in China after the first year we managed to find chocolate eggs.  (The first year we were there I arrived just before Easter weekend.  I had smuggled loads and loads of Easter Eggs in my hand-carry and cases to make up for the fact that it was our first Easter away.  My daughter confirmed during our chat that that was THE best Easter EVER!).

Lucky for us we had a Marks & Spencer’s which eventually started carrying Easter Eggs but before that we were forced to the international hotels for their Easter eggs for guests and expats alike.

Hot Cross Buns

The thing that surprised me the most was the absence of our beloved Hot Cross Buns.  I think it’s something you just take for granted.

Missing in Action: Hot Cross Buns

Missing in Action: Hot Cross Buns

Not unlike Christmas decorations once Valentine’s Day is done out come the Hot Cross Buns (actually someone reminded me pretty much on Boxing Day they come out!).  There’s nothing better than the first batch of Hot Cross Buns but then by Easter you’re kind of over them.  Right now, from where I’m sitting having had none this year I’m craving them–so much so that I’m attempting to make them.  In fact, through Facebook a number of us Aussies living in America are collectively craving them.  Imagine, fresh from the oven, butter melting over them (tons of butter!) and a cup of (real) coffee or tea.  Look what I’m doing to myself.

Easter morning traditions

In Australia and across Britain we hunt eggs Easter morning then eat ourselves silly on chocolate and Hot Cross Buns.

Here in America eating is more central to Easter.  Like Christmas and Thanksgiving there’s a “set menu”.  A new branch of Ralph’s (supermarket chain) opened (an opening we’ve been hanging out for) and I wondered why they had stocked so much ham.  It was like Christmas in Australia.  Turns out everyone has ham for Easter; it’s the thing.  I could fully do that one.

It got me thinking that apart from Hot Cross Buns there’s no “set menu” in Australia.  As we’re usually on a long weekend we’re often away.  It’s also often the last chance we get at being at the beach so we probably just have a Barbie (BBQ), feast on seafood and generally be out on the boat or on the Beach (or a bit of both).

Like at home Easter varies from house to house but these seem to be the main differences:

  • Chocolate eggs v plastic eggs filled with candy and coins (perhaps greenbacks in 90210?!)
  • Hot Cross Buns and anything goes v Ham as part of a shared meal and lots of variations on eggs, such as deviled eggs
  • Longest weekend of the year v Friday off if you’re lucky or in some states no days off.

Who better to sum up a typical Easter feast than Martha Stewart so I’ve linked her suggestions for you to have a sticky beak (click on Martha Stewart highlighted–Blog reading for Dummies).  And if you click through you’ll see one of the desert suggestions is our very own Pav.  There you go!

I love learning about the differences in our cultures, especially that we all basically came from the Brits many years ago at different times through different reasons and from different classes yet we’re so uniquely different.

Back to the long weekend

In Australia we love a good long weekend so the Easter four-day long weekend is like hitting the jackpot in Vegas.  You can imagine my surprise then when I discovered it wasn’t really a long weekend here in the US.    It’s not until you move or travel overseas that you realise how lucky we are to have a four-day long weekend.

Many countries obviously don’t celebrate Easter.  When we lived in China I remember thinking how surreal it was that Good Friday–traditionally a day where NOTHING is open at home–was business-as-usual.  Again, you’d expect a more religious Nation like America to have time off for Easter off.  No long weekend here.  Some schools get Friday off (not all) and many offices (like Mr H’s) are business-as-usual on Friday, let alone Monday.

So enjoy your long weekend (if you’re lucky enough to get one).  My kids want to take a day off for “religious reasons” good luck with that kids.

Happy Easter everyone & Happy long weekend Australia & the UK. Bastards ;).

xx It Started in LA xx

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